Unconditional, Chapter #1: Revolution

Written by Peter D Avellone on . Posted in AE Stories

A pathetic-looking figure, limping along, hunched over and clothed in rags pushed a rickety cart loaded with wasteland scavengings past the gates of Refugee Camp 16, nearly unnoticed by the bored-looking Occupational Police. They were lost in heated discussions. Their attentions were focused on better places, the more exciting frontiers making news in the Guild now, on the tales of great battles spreading throughout the Empire.
Refugee Camp 16 occupied the ruins of old Hangar Base 6 outside of Panxser City on Littitride IV. Most of its residents were the aging Khogherran soldiers of the old Littitride Militia, confined to the camp for the past fifteen years of occupation. Above them, the gleaming specks of a lone, battered H'artugan dreadnought and its fighter complement passed through the night sky, high above the planet. 
Khogherrans resembled a humanoid mix of wolf and draft horse. It was rumored that the species was actually evolved from a set of specific-use tailored super-evolved life-forms ("SELFs" as they were commonly referred) created by a long-extinct local race of humans for sport in a very intricate and graphically-violent chess-like war game. They were the only surviving legacy of that long-gone people other than the crumbling, highly radioactive ruins of cities beneath clouds of metallic debris obscuring a few desolate and poisoned planets scattered about the near-empty sectors along the galactic rim.
The H'artugan Empire had struck them hard out of the night skies over fifteen years ago in a series of coordinated, swift attacks. They'd lost all but two distant outlying worlds and two fleets out on maneuvers. Dead in the millions, cities burned to ash, their civilization wrecked and enslaved. Ironically, the Khogherrans had just declared a truce towards ending an exhaustive, bitter and long-running Clan War. Beaten down from decades of war, they fell easily to the seemingly endless waves of H'artugan fleets.
Resistance had been fierce- at first. So was the backlash. The H'artugans simply responded with more fleets from the pillages of their worlds. Every attack on H'artugan soldiers or ships only resulted in more hardship for the Khogherran people. All their initial efforts early on only served to enrage the H'artugans. They responded with more troops, ships, and raids. As H'artugan violence escalated against the civilian population it was decided to let the Resistance drop out of sight and plan for the future. 
They had sunk their manufacturing into the depths of the world, quietly building ships and reverse-engineering H'artugan technologies for use in Khogherran hands, learning the ebb and flow of the enemy and their habits. Refugee Camp 16 was typical of H'artugan hubris. They populated the camps with former military and orphaned young, placing them on 'destroyed' bases and hangars, wholly unawares of the complex installations left over from a myriad of previous wars and doomsday scenarios. Untouched by H'artugan weapons, the hardened silos, buried hangars and bunkers remained untouched and functional, mere minutes and hours away below their feet.
They had been waiting and watching for years, signs that their occupier was getting bored, weakening, beginning to lose their hold on some nearby worlds. Evidence that their supply lines and troop levels were stretching thin. 
The fragile H'artugan logistics train, once an efficient marvel of materials-in-motion had been reduced to a nightmare snarl of mystery crates that seemed to be everywhere they weren't needed. It was to the point where nobody knew what was in what crate, where it had come from or how it had gotten there. The morale of H'artugan troops slipped a little more with every passing day. Victims of their own chaos and inefficiency, they unwittingly provided a boon to the Khogherran military. Hidden underground for a decade, they toiled with the tireless ferocity of the created, always seeking how to exploit any and every weakness in H'artugan technology that would gain them the upper hand in the coming fight. In taking advantage of the ever-growing gaps in H'artugan surveillance through breakdowns and sabotage, they had managed to re-establish their ComNet, launch surveillance satellites and train new soldiers. 
Supreme Khogherran War-Marshall Photog-Tarsus of House Hauntenyear, Clan CanCleer shuffled by the guards in his well-worn disguise as a disfigured refugee headed for a rendevous point inside the camp. He paused and sat down, pretending to rest, head lowered, hanging on every word and detail. Despite his rank and age, he was relentless in his drive to gather intelligence as surely as the young, raw recruits of the Resistance. Inspiration must reach outwards from every leader, he warned. The will to fight comes from the selflessness and dedication to our freedom. Always lead by example. 
One of the guards became quite animated at his presence. "Hey mule-dog!" he barked, poking his rifle at him. "Get yer tail up and move it along! We don't need you fouling our air!"
A couple of the others laughed. "Oh, that's just old 'Spare-Parts,'" spoke up another guard. "Used to be some kind of important back in the day."
"No fooling? A cyborg mule-dog?" The man erupted into laughter, beginning to attract the attention of the nearby refugees who looked on with hatred in their eyes. 
The guard poked him with the muzzle of his rifle, clanking on the steel breastplate that covered where the flesh of his chest had once been. He pulled back the filthy cowl covering his face with beryllium-steel fingers and rose to his knees, servos growling. His face, his skull, made of organic titanium and obscured beneath layers of soiled bandages, gave him the appearance of a leper. Whirr! Snick! Shutters adjusted, mechanical irises dilating. Deep in the nightmarish optics in place of his eyes, the dim red glow of malevolent intelligence brightened angrily, and met the eyes of this man. This unwelcome, armed intruder of his homeland.
"The Gods!" He exclaimed, taking a step back in surprise. "Man! I need to take a picture of that! What a freak!"
A secure transmission reached him through transceiver implants built into the armor of his new skull, in spite of enemy communications suppression and monitoring equipment spread around the camp. Much of the H'artugan gear was obsolete and didn't get repaired or replaced as it wore out. Newer equipment and technology went to the fronts, not to guard units on long-ago pacified worlds. There were trained soldiers among the refugees and they were ready to fight. Now. 
* Just give the word and we'll take them out, sir. *
< No. Not yet. We want to keep the advantage as long as possible. >
The guard suddenly disengaged the safety on his rifle and put it square in his face. "Go ahead freak. Just twitch and I'll blow a hole through your head."
The eyes of the other guardsman went wide. "Jesse! What in the hell are you doing?"
"Man, I'm sick of all this standing around. I'm sick of having to baby-sit these ugly monsters." 
His face twisted into a crazy sneer, staring intently at the Supreme War-Marshall, who'd drawn himself up to his full height, significantly taller and larger than the man, their eyes locked, the stink of hate and sweat heavy in the air between them.
"I mean, look at him, will you? If it's even a him? An IT? I mean, who cares? Who cares if we blow a few of these critters away? Might liven things up around here!"
"Jesse, we're getting slaughtered on the frontier! Don't you watch the reports? It's bodies in space and floating junk. We're safe here. All we have to do is 'keep the peace' and life goes on. Hell, they're practically tame. This deployment is a cake-walk. This planet even has beaches! When was the last time you saw a beach outside of Palladreen?" He looked at the Khogherran cyborg. "You wouldn't fight if you could, would you, Spare-Parts?"
Some of the camp refugees had moved in and separated into groups, looking interested. Intent. 
* We've got two snipers in position, Supreme War-Marshall. Commandos are moving into position. We can clear this camp in under a minute. *
< Tell your snipers to target the two furthest from my position. I'll take care of the idiot in front of me. Capture the others alive if possible. We need to remain on schedule for the Big Show, but I need to live long enough to direct it. >
* Affirmative, sir. *
< One more thing, Sargeant. >
* Yes, Supreme War-Marshall? *
< Do you remember interrogations? >
There was an unexpected pause at the other end. * Yes sir, I do. I remember it like it was yesterday, sir. *
< You were a family man. >
* Yes sir. I was a family man. *
The Supreme Commander had been outfitted with numerous personal weapons over the years, his armor reinforced. If the guard fired at his head, the projectile would do some moderate damage to the hull, or destroy an optical sensor, but not much else. In the end of his 'muzzle' he'd been fitted with a hybrid gun, a combination charged-particle, 'shotgun' projectile, one magnesium, one white phosphorous, with a plasma sheath. It was basically a twin barreled, single-use area weapon designed to be deadly at close range. His left forearm was a concealed antipersonnel mine disguised as a bracer, and his right arm contained a modified plasma torch on a tool mount.
"Why would I fight you?" growled the Khogherran cyborg, his voice grating and insincere. "The war was a long time ago."
"My dad kicked your tails on the ground assault wave and fought your Resistance in the years afterwards. He said that your kind would never accept living under our leadership. He told me of all the little dirty tricks your kind pulled. Taught me how to keep a watchful eye. Always said we'd be better off killing every last one of you and just recycling the waste of your civilization."
Cold rage filling his veins, the Supreme War-Marshall homed in on the man's nameplate. Bossier. Bruce Bossier. That name rose out of the fog of years and remembrances. The 'Bozer'. 'Bozer the Bulldozer'. He'd passed by the man every other day for a month now and never made the connection. Memories came flooding back. Commander Bossier. Occupational Commander Bossier. Murderer. Torturer. Killer of women and children. Soldiers' families brought before them to confess to crimes they'd never committed. The calm sea of his outward tranquility bore no trace of the rolling oceans of storms that tore through his mind. 
For the first time in his long, painful life, he was glad for the mask of metal that had replaced his face and the optics that had replaced his eyes. They were incapable of giving away the expression of hatred and anger soaring through his blood.
He took a long, deep breath, hatred pooling like venom in his gut.
"Your father was Occupational Commander Bossier? Is he still alive?" He forced the words out, desperately trying to maintain his composure. 
"Yeah," suddenly the man became angry. "Why would you care, you rotten can of dog-food and spare-parts?"
"Jesse!" said the other guard.
"Gods, Yankin, why don't you back off, beach boy? I got this handled!"
"They'll be paperwork, Jesse," Yankin warned and turned away.
"My problem, not yours!" He snapped.
"Commander Bossier," he intoned softly. The Gods were testing him, toying with him, he, with the fate of their people and their worlds resting upon his shoulders. 
The guard named Jesse Bossier looked at him strangely. "Occupational COMMANDER Bossier," he replied, "the one and THE only Bozer. Bozer the Bulldozer. Yeah, that's right, you remember him, huh?"
"I remember your father." He felt strangely calm, all of a sudden. Screw the Gods. This was Fate. Fate had handed him this challenge, a tempting prize along the ever-narrowing path of Destiny. 
* Sir? *
< We… have a change of plan. >
* Sir! Did I just hear all of that correctly? Is that boy standing in front of you the SON of 'Bozer the Butcher'? *
< Yes, Sargeant. Tell the men that we are taking hostages. Aim for their weapons. Their weapon arms. I want these boys and girls alive. How close are we to launch? >
* Fleet prep finished. Holding to launch schedule sir. *
< Turret capability? >
* Charging, Sir. We're trying to keep the rate under the radar. I can spend a nuke to complete the charge sooner they’d be online and above ground in minutes, but it'll only give us .01% capability. And, there's no going back if I hit that nuke charge. The H'artugans will see the signature and that dreadnought will respond. We'll still need weeks to get those defenses up to strength once they're out in the open.*
< Status of the incoming fleet? > 
Their two outlying bases had been developing tech and fleet for almost a decade now, one, a fast fleet for helping planet-side forces from breaking the occupation and eluding pursuit with a horde of corvettes, destroyers, ion-powered frigates loaded with hulking ion-powered bombers, and the other, a slower fleet of cruisers and heavy cruisers stacked with fighter-drones and plasma-bombers to provide the newly-freed planets of the Khogherran empire with defense against re-occupation. 
* They could be at detection range any minute now. Not due for two hours, sir. *
< Can we keep this camp quiet for that long, do you think? >
* Given how lax they've become, sir, I'd say yes. Just before dawn is their lull-time. We have people who can slow or stop the next patrol due in to their checkpoint. *
< We must adhere to the timetable, Sargeant. This mission has been years in the planning... >
The Supreme War-Marshall was interrupted. "What's wrong with him?" The guard was screaming. "He looks like he's listening to something? Oh Gods!" his voice died off with the revelation. The Supreme War-Marshall could see it in his eyes. He held up his arms. The two guards furthest from him lost their weapon arms in a pink spray of flesh and bone. 
He slapped the rifle aside and it went off, spitting a burst of rounds beside him into the worn tarmac. With his other hand he backhanded The Bozers' son square on the side of his helmet, knocking him unconscious. Clutching the unconscious man, he strode towards the remaining guard, who spun around, rifle hanging ineffectively in his hands, trying to register what had just happened.
The Supreme War-Marshall swung the man he was carrying against him, knocking him to the ground and separating him from his rifle. He put a stout, armored boot on the man's chest and ignited the plasma torch on his right arm, pointing it at his face.
"Surrender or die!" He roared, his muzzle gun extended for emphasis. 
"Surrender! By the Gods, I surrender!"
Around the camp, the sounds of armed struggle were brief. They had won the first battle. Contrary to their initial plan, they had taken hostages. Valuable hostages. 
* Supreme War-Marshall, Hangar Base 6 is secure. Our forces at other camps report no sense of alarm, no unusual com-chatter. What are your orders for the hostages? *
< They will be multiplying our strategic advantage. Especially this one, > he added, bending down to remove the helmet and expose the face, transmitting a series of images.
< The first sign of H'artugan acknowledgement of hostilities, send them these pictures with his name, rank and serial number. I suspect he is the most important soldier they have on Littitride IV. Set up an interrogation squad. Take them as deep into the heart of the world as you can go. I am moving to my command. Tarsus, out. >
* Affirmative, Sir. *
< And Sargeant? >
* Sir? *
< Tempting as it may be, I want young Bossier here treated as gently as possible. I wish him to remain untouched. I have a long-term plan in mind for him. One that may satisfy the honor of our families which were lost to his. > 
* As you wish, Supreme War-Marshall. We follow your orders. *
The crowd was in high spirits, cheering as they dragged their hostages towards the ruins of Hanger One. Already, the rubble was shifting to reveal the Swift elevators that would take them to one of the fleets of Ion Frigates idling in safety, deep below thousands of feet of rock and shielding. 
Supreme Khogherran War-Marshall Photog-Tarsus made his first stop at the cybernetics complex above the immense, shielded hangar shaft bored down into the heartrock of Littitride IV. 
The rags and old clothes were stripped away, along with much of his old armor and prosthesis, switched out for newer, lighter, and much more modernized upgrades. Inside of an hour, he was back on the Swift elevator, clad in gleaming armor and stealth cybernetics, surrounded by his staff and contingent of Elite Guard, on his way to the subterranean command center complex to orchestrate the coming fight. He would be bringing almost a century of combat experience to the fight.
According to protocol, the current commander, Senior Production head, Commander Dalhgren Manks and his staff met them at the causeway to transfer authority. They shook hands, "Thanks for keeping the wheels turning, Commander," spoke the Supreme War-Marshall. 
Commander Manks nodded, admiring the upgraded cybernetics. "My pleasure. Are you ready to win over a few hearts, Tarsus?”
“I’m preparing to break a few, old friend. How go the final checks?”
"Complete. Not a sick bird in the flock, sir."  
The Supreme War-Marshall gave him a nod and they exchanged salutes. "Well done, Commander, until we meet again."
“Give ‘em hell, sir! We are with you to the end!”
Photog-Tarsus uplinked into the ComNet as soon as he passed the hardened blast doors of the nerve center or 'Nest' as it was affectionately known, one of the nineteen such facilities for command and control scattered throughout Littittride IV. No commander had ever lost his life or a single member of his staff throughout the occupation of Littittride IV.
Sifting through the barrage of incoming strategic data, he weighed every factor he could consider. Preparations begun a decade ago were nearing completion. Trajectories moved towards the zero point. As minutes became seconds, it was now down to him, his decision alone to lever the years of careful preparation into the face of the enemy in a single shot for success or failure, or to issue a recall to the approaching fleets and hold fast for another time, another opportunity. 
All eyes turned to him, stoic, silent, and ready, the dim red glow of emergency lamps shining on the rough flesh and clenched jaws of powerful muzzles made to crush bone and rend flesh.
Seconds thundered by in slow motion, to the pounding of twin hearts, silence falling across the nest. The scrolling time-feeds of the incoming fleets spun down to single digits. His voice roared like thunder across every open wavelength.  
  "All ships! Launch!"
The Second Khogherran war of Liberation had begun.
Across Littitride IV, ships roared out of their subterranean hides on pillars of smoke and fire, arcing up and away from the earth on wings of flame. From the Deep Hangars on the nearby moon of Oriitzius, angry swarms of hulking Ion-powered bombers erupted from the deep cold of the darkside like hornets to engage the backup fleet of H'artugan heavy cruisers parked in geosynchronous orbit on the moons' sun-side.
The rescue fleet's arrival had been tied nearly to the very few seconds of the planetary launch. Several hundred ion frigates streaked towards the dreadnought and its fighter complement from their last minutes of cover the night-side of Littitride IV. Coming in fast from the sun side were the hundreds of ion frigates and ion bombers that had been in route for weeks. The photon cannons of the dreadnought roared to life, erasing dozens of incoming craft with every shot. The H'artugan fighter escort, essentially useless against the superior shielding and armor of the Khogherran ships, was destroyed in moments.
The shields of the dreadnought erupted against the ion cannonade, brightening angrily to the point of ignition, feeding back into their generators, overwhelmed by the numerical superiority of the combined Khogherran fleets. They yielded and gave out, a single, explosive flash as they died, leaving the ship surrounded in a foggy, cirrus-like shroud of dissipating energy. Hundreds upon hundreds of eerie, neon-green streaks licked against and through the exposed armor, piercing the hull of the massive warship. 
Explosions rocked magazines and fuel dumps inside the craft, jets of air, wreckage, and bodies erupting into space between brief flares of liquid, zero-g fire. Wherever the charged-ion beams found water reserves, they were turned into unstoppable locomotives of superheated steam, buckling the hull and charging with unimagined violence through the corridors and access tunnels of the massive vessel. It burst at a dozen seams, belching it's innards into space and breaking into pieces. The end was catastrophic and total. There were no survivors.
On the moon-side of the battle, the backup fleets settled in among the wreckage of the H’artugan Heavy Cruiser fleet without ever having fired a shot, the work of the moon-based ion bomber fleet having been near-immediate. A few escape ships were picked from the debris, the survivors terrified, hounds now at the hands of the hunted. The newly-arrived Khogherran vessels loaded their empty hangar bays and headed for a regroup at Littitride IV. The rest remained behind until a new fighter cap could be re-established.
At last, it was over. Below, on the battle-scarred grounds of Hangar Base 6, Khogherrans looked to the brief, out-of-place early, sunrise as an omen to reclaim their freedom.
Across Littitride IV, the near total militarization of the Khogherran population reached its final stage: deployment. From every window, doorframe, hillock, or pile of rubble, the H'artugan occupational militia fell to Khogherran snipers, machine gun nests, booby-traps, and all manner of energy weapons. Those who had no weapons used their powerful fists and jaws. By noon, only a hundred-odd prisoners remained alive out of a troop complement once numbering in the tens of thousands, on a forced march down into the nightmare labyrinthine world in which the Resistance had lived for well over a decade. 
Across the next several days, masses of corvettes, destroyers, missile frigates, and ion frigates loaded with ion and plasma bombers shattered other H'artugan occupations and pirated shipping-lanes across nearby sectors, incurring heavy economic losses to an already overstretched empire. 
Beyond these came more fleets of corvettes and destroyers protecting the smelter/foundry ships known as ‘recyclers’ as they set to the task of clearing the debris fields orbiting planets, and returning the harvested wreckage as refined alloys to the Khogherran industrial production stream. Through the coming weeks, larger, slower cruisers and battleships began to arrive, providing further cover for the rebuilding of defenses at newly freed bases until fighter caps could be restored.  
At Littitride IV and the nearby moon of Oriitzius, orbital shipyards were added and production lines switched over towards the manufacture of larger capital ships. Similar to the H'artugan designs they had begun production of the Khogherran equivalent of dreadnoughts and titans. These larger ‘fortress-vessels’ were required to protect the shipping-lanes and meet the defense requirements with alien trading partners outside of the Khogherran Confederation. Prosperity was returning to the Confederation.
The H'artugan Empire, steeped in the ages, had taken a serious blow on the Khogherran front, one that had not been anticipated. Losing the resource-rich worlds of the Khogherran confederation created shortages and crisis throughout the long chain of empire. Along the front lines, marginal victories began to give way to marginal defeats. Battered and weakening, the royal house of H'artugan, built upon the spoils of war, was running out of worlds and peoples to plunder. Without the military might to reinforce their conquests, treaties and pacts with rival confederations began to crumble. The Khogherrans, a people who were manufactured for war, consolidated their might, implemented breeding programs and prepared for an escalation of hostilities on their terms. 
Bridge Final Dirty Extras SMALL 
Supreme War-Marshall Photog-Tarsus stood in the cavernous magazine-room of the missile-frigate Heroic with his personal guard and a single, prominent prisoner, now several years older. About them, the deck thrummed with the roar of distant engines, reverberating through the armored hull. X-class missiles surrounded them like fearsome titans, slumbering in the elevators.
"I am struck by the ignorance of your people, young Bossier," growled the cyborg War-Marshall, and now leader of the Khogherran people. "You leave me with the impression that your kind never considered us to be a people of military prowess."
The man glowered at him.
"I can understand this, seeing as how we were so easily conquered at the closure of a long-running and very, very bitter clan war, the likes of which has plagued our people for centuries. It has been many ages since our clans fought as one, during our first war of liberation, the one in which we severed the leashes around our necks from our original masters, our makers." 
Jesse Bossier looked down, jaws tight. The ugliness creeping into the electronically -assisted tone of the Supreme War-Marshalls' voice circuits matched only by his hatred. The Khogherran cyborg had something in store for him. Something unpleasant. He was aware of the stories that the Khogherrans were a 'SELF' species and that they had completely exterminated the race that had built them.
"Your people gave us one thing needed to save us. Unity. An end, or at least a temporary halt to the conflicts that have plagued us in our ascension as a free people. We were built to fight. In games. In wars. For the pleasure of others. We defended worlds and fought one another in arenas and coliseums to please our masters. With them gone, we acquired their habits and tore at one another in short time. Did you know that? Did you know the history of the people you conquered?"
Former Occupational Commander Jesse Bossier straightened and looked at him. "No."
"The nosecones of these missiles are built to hold the bodies of those who fell in battle or died at the hands of your people. It is a great honor to have ones' flesh turned to ash in the forge of war. We hold the belief that it frees one from the bonds of the flesh and launches one’s soul into the glory of Elysium and Valhalla. We hold an annual celebration, where we would launch great mausoleum-vessels into the sun, a ritual we could not celebrate while we were the unwilling subjects of your Empire. Each warhead contains a crypt of seven sepulchres. One for every clan." 
He grimaced. These creatures were insane. Ghouls.
"There is a world, a capital world of your people, Palladreen, I believe you call it. Home to ten billion souls."
His features hardened. He broke his silence. "What in the name of the Gods are you up to, monster?"
"Here!" He grabbed the man's head in a beryllium claw and steered his gaze to one of the nearby missiles, "You'll notice something unique about this missile, young Bossier! It is reserved for special occasions!"
The tip of the warhead was a clear bubble, revealing an acceleration-chair fitted with restraints.
"You will be reunited with your family. I have spoken with your father and he desires your return, which I have guaranteed. This missile is programmed for your father's command center, and as a gift, from us, he knows that you will be coming!"
“He will never surrender! Not to the likes of you, you vine-ripened abomination!”
“That, is exactly what I am counting on,” replied the Khogherran cyborg. He stared at the man for a short time, then turned, waving his claw in the air dismissively. “Prepare him for his journey home. Goodbye, young Bossier.” 
The laughter of the Supreme Khogherran War-Marshall, almost touched with madness, rang in his ears as the Elite Guard dragged him, cursing and struggling, to the missile. Silence rewarded him as nosecone was sealed. The missile shook once as the elevator started and again as it came to rest inside the launch tube.
There was only a brief time spent in the darkness, broken by the crescent of the tube door opening, revealing to him a silver-streaked world of green and blue. With a shudder from the electromagnetic launcher and the bone-jarring jolt of engine ignition, they were off into free space. About him he could see the line of Khogherran missile frigates and carriers launching waves of missiles, fighters and bombers towards his boyhood home. As Palladreen loomed closer, they navigated the drifting wreckage of broken defensive rings and plunged through the spongy, cirrus-like coronal residue of the planetary shields. Closer now, and Palladreen's skies and silvery clouds were streaked with the black and gray plumes of dying cities and smoldering industrial regions. Flashes of detonating bombs and streaks of energy lit the growing clouds of dust and ash. Intermittently the brilliant flare of ion bombs tinged everything with a sickly, neon green luminescence.
The missile rotated, leveled out, and changed course, heading north along a too-familiar coastline, now broken and ragged with the tall structures of ashen luminaries, lightning-streaked and pale with vaporized seawater.  
In final set of seconds, strung out in long picture-frames, the ruins of the Imperial palace filled his view, engulfed in flames, outlined in the x-ray flashes of detonating bombs above and below it, the labyrinthine world of command and control networks, over which his father now commanded, lay exposed through great, burning chasms in the earth, the earth now reddened and sore with the tools of war...
The Supreme Khogherran War-Marshall Photog-Tarsus, of House Hauntenyear, Clan CanCleer stood on the bridge of the Heroic in silence, as the crown jewel of the H'artugan Empire fell to rising might of the Khogherran Confederation.
He turned. The Captain of the Heroic stood before him.
"Yes, Captain?"
"Sir. We have received reports that the Palladreen Defensive Commander Bruce Bossier has been killed along with the royal family. The H'artugan Admiralty is requesting your terms for their surrender."
"Unconditional, Captain. Unconditional."

End of Part One.
SELF/Super Evolved Life-form, Khogherra/Khogherran, Kaulo/Kaulin, Charachters Supreme Khogherran War-Marshall Photog-Tarsus, copyright Peter D Avellone 1994 and may be reproduced with exclusive permission.

Story sent by Peter D Avellone for the AE Stories event.